Crime Watch

The Nose, His Wife and Her Hit Man

Nov 04, 2004
The Moscow Times

In Nikolai Gogol's famous short story "The Nose," Major Kovalyov wakes up one morning to discover that his nose has vanished and is wandering around St. Petersburg wearing his uniform.

Luckily for Kovalyov, he is eventually reunited with his nose while still in good health. Equally lucky is a retired military man, living near the Moscow region village of Balashikha, who recently came close to losing his life as well as his nose.

The wife of the retired lieutenant colonel was arrested on Oct. 7 after she hired a hit man to kill her husband for $5,000 and demanded that the killer cut off his nose and bring it to her as proof of his death, a source in the Moscow region police said. Their names and ages are not being released due to the ongoing investigation, the source said.

According to police, the woman hired the killer because of a dispute over their apartment in Balashikha, 21 kilometers east of Moscow.

The husband told Moskovsky Komsomolets that he had moved to Moscow to undergo medical treatment and canceled his registration at their Balashikha apartment. When he tried to return, his wife refused to let him move back in, saying she now owned the three-room apartment, he told the newspaper.

But as often happens when hit men are hired, the killer backed out of the deal and notified police, who promptly notified the husband and set up a sting operation to catch the woman handing over the money, the police source said.

An undercover policeman was sent with the would-be killer to hand over the husband's documents and his keys to the apartment in exchange for the money. But, of course, he had no nose to offer.

"She demanded to see the nose," the source said.

"But when he didn't have it, she gave him the money anyway in exchange for the documents."

That was enough for the undercover cop, who arrested the woman on the spot. She has been charged with organizing a murder and is currently being held in a detention facility in Volokolomsk, 116 kilometers west of Moscow.

She could face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty.

"She has partially confessed," the police source said. "But I don't think she will confess to everything. I think she will say she loved him too much and could never kill him."

It was unclear whether the woman asked for her husband's severed nose as a means of avoiding sting operations. In such operations, police use Polaroid photos of intended contract hit victims, after they have been given a cosmetic makeover to make it look as if they have been killed.

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